Monday, July 25, 2016

Shoal Creek, TN

Andrea has not paddled down a creek before, so we decided to go back to Shoal Creek at Iron City, TN and do the 8 mile trip on kayaks this weekend.

There are several reasons we chose Shoal Creek: their rates are really good, they are less than 2 hours away, they have lots of info on their website and they take you right to the creek and leave.  Then when you are done, they come down and get the boats, the whole time on the creek is all up to you.

The water was a little low, but we only had to drag our kayaks once at the very start of the trip.  Every other time I got stuck was because I paddled into shallow water.  Chandler pulled me out once, Matt the second time and Ben rammed me off a rock the last time.  So, yay family!

We got on the water around 10:15 and got back to the cars at 2:30, we stopped to play in the water 3-4 different times.

When the trip (we did Factory Creek to Iron City) you pass lots of houses and camps set up along the creek,  After about a mile, maybe 2, the banks get more steep and the creek is flanked by fields and woods.  There are rocky beaches and deep spots to pull over and take a dip.  We all got out to swim in one spot and there were gar EVERYWHERE.  We got back in and kept going!

The banks are dotted with turtles on logs, heron, dragonflies and butterflies that dive bomb at hats or heads, I was fluttered into more than once.  In the reeds are tadpoles and bullfrogs occasionally let loose with a 'bonk' that sounds like a banjo string badly out of tune.  Floating on your back, you can hear the clink of rocks as the current moves them along the creekbed.  Flashes of tiny silver fish, splashes from bigger fish out hunting, the stillness of gar in the dappled shade, it's a lovely way to spend a day!

Andrea is pretty sure she's a professional kayaker now.

I kept putting the camera in the water to see if I could get any fish.  There's one!

Caitlyn, Andrea's daughter, came too!

Another fish!

The water was surprisingly cold, I enjoyed our stops to take a dip.
I am not sure what's going on here, looks like the guys are staring off upstream while Chandler dramatically drowns.

Lots of these, we think baby dragonfly

Another one I have no idea what's going on, and I just took it yesterday.
Ben is pushing his 'yak upstream and Chandler is in the background looking for life sustaining grubs on that tiny island.  Where is her kayak?  hahaha!

Well, she found it.

Several heron sightings

The kids are really ready for some 'bigger' water, I am looking at a trip with some technical spots, like whitewater lite. 

Whew, barely made it through the riffles!

I was thrilled with my corkscrew pigtails.

And a couple quick shots from our sunset swim last week:

Matt had a 4 day weekend, he took Thursday off after a late night gig Wednesday.
We lazed around mostly, but managed to get in about 10 miles of walking and a minor grocery shopping trip.

Chan will likely be starting work full time in the next couple of weeks, so she and Ben are off to stay with Phoenix for a few days on an extended sleepover.  I am hoping to squeeze in one more trip with her next week, I knew August was the plan, but it got here so fast.

Monday, July 11, 2016


Look at me, updating after only 4 days and stuff.

Yesterday, we went to Batey Farms near Murfreesburo, TN to see the sunflowers in bloom.  They are only around about 2 weeks and just started to open last Wednesday, so the window is short!

It was hot, hot, hot!  We got up there at 5, hoping it would not be so bad, but it was.  Katy, her mom and Emma joined us for the experience.  And it was an'd think walking around in a field of flowers would be kind of boring, but no!  There were bees on every flower, which was exciting to see so many healthy honeybees out.  I bought a Mason jar of honey for $12, which is WAY cheaper than Karen's proposed $1000 a jar for her honey.  It is so good!  I am sure it comes from all kinds of flowers since the season is so short, but thinking it's sunflower honey made it even better.  hahaha!

There is a path cut through the flowers to about...100 feet in, with branches off in different directions and insets cut into the field for pictures.  There are 23 acres in all planted.  It was so cool to walk along and all these huge flowers are blooming between 5 and 6 feet off the ground, so it was like happy, yellow people surrounding you.  There would never be a Children of the Sunflowers because no one would be scared.  They ooze cheerfulness.

The bulk of the flowers face east, so there wasn't a 'full field facing' shot and it was way too hot to wiggle 23 acres through them and shoot against the sun.

I left a gap to photoshop Jake in.  But that seemed like a lot of work.
It was too hot to stand any closer, we really do know each other.

We have been playing Pokemon Go, which involves walking around the house, pasture, track and driving through town to get eggs and such from the places they occur.  We have so many eggs that we will have to walk something like 40 miles to hatch them all.  Matt suggested Richard Martin end to end twice.  ACK.  That would be 40 miles, but in this heat, I think 8 miles is my limit, unless we can walk after sunset.

Watched Mile...Mile and a Half about thru hiking the JMT.  WOW.  That's gorgeous, the AT has long boring bits with occasional views.  The JMT has nothing but views end to end.  I am starting a group to hike it in 2020, when Matt starts getting 4 weeks of vacation a year.  So far, there's me.

Did crunches with a 10 pound medicine ball and now-2 days later-my back is howling.  Wimpy spine and muscles.  Gah.  I am on a heating pad IN THE SUMMER.  But I had yogurt, so I should be healed in a couple hours, soon as it reaches my bones. Just enough time to finish the book I am reading, the last (that I can find) of the Yrsa Sigurdardottir's series set in Iceland.  My father and I have been delving into the Scandinavian crime novels the past 3-4 years and have exhausted the library and affordable ebook suppliers of our usuals and I turned, in desperation, to the single Icelandic crime writer and we both really like her work.  Daddy read them in order and I managed to mangle it quite a bit somehow, but only the substory of her family life follows a timeline, so it's not hard to piece together.  I told him we may have to resort to nefarious means to obtain new materials, but after talking it over, we discovered a homeschooling mom and a Baptist minister really don't have many blackmarket sources.  Or, well, any.

Good thing he will happily read thru hiker books because the man loves numbers.  All the miles and calories and days it rains and nights in town and gear costs, that all appeals to him on a deep level.  I gave him the Grandma Gatewood story last month, I really loved that book.  I was hoping since Emma backpacked well into her 80's that he'd be inspired to hike with me, but nothing doing.  He's retired, yo.  That means short walks with Butterbean and lots of sitting to fish, read and watch wrestling with the mute on.  I have NEVER understood that, he's done it since I was a kid.

This week is looking hot and rainy, but I have a thru hike in 4 years and I need to start training now or else I will die on the second day.  The first day, I will get through just because I will be so excited.  So, I am off to finish my to do list in the house and get gas for the mowers and as soon as it dries up enough, I will mow.  It may not be climbing mountains, but pushing a mower in this heat is still good practice for fending off sanity and you need that on a long hike.